LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Property inspections are a necessity for Arkansas residents rebuilding following recent severe storms, tornadoes and flooding according to officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM).
Registering with FEMA for disaster assistance triggers a series of actions leading to an inspection of your property by a FEMA contract inspector.
Once registered, homeowners and renters referred to FEMA’s Individual Assistance program should hear from an inspector within 7- 10 days. The inspectors will schedule an appointment with the applicant. If an applicant has evacuated from his/her home and is unable to meet an inspector at the property, arrangements can be made for someone else to accompany the inspector.
Inspections are conducted by companies under contract to the government, and all FEMA representatives carry photo identification. Never give information to someone without seeing official identification. If in doubt, call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. A FEMA inspector simply verifies and documents damages and does not make decisions about any benefits you may receive.
There is no charge for official inspections. Homeowners should show proof of ownership, and homeowners and renters should be able to prove occupancy. If insurance papers are available, residents should show them to the inspector.
The FEMA inspection process will include a search for structural damage of the building. The inspector will look at the foundation, roof, flooring, drywall and ceilings of the structure. The heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems also will be reviewed. The inspector will create a record of all disaster-related damages. A survey of damaged personal property, clothing and automobiles also may be conducted.
More than one inspection may be required, depending on the type of aid under consideration. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) may require its own inspection before issuing a low-interest loan.
Victims of recent severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in Arkansas should register with FEMA as a first step toward recovery. The toll-free Helpline registration number is 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing- and speech-impaired. Applicants also can file on the FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov. It is important for the applicant to provide current contact phone numbers so a FEMA inspector can schedule an appointment. Those already registered should update contact information by calling the Helpline.
It is not necessary to wait for an insurance settlement to apply for assistance. However, it is possible an applicant will not receive an inspection until an insurance settlement has been received by FEMA.
Property owners who suspect fraud should contact local law enforcement authorities or the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-323-8603.
FEMA coordinates the Federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terrorism.